I suppose we all have experiences in life that leave their indelible impression on us. I had one of those happen to me a couple of years ago that I would like to share with you.
It was a week day and we were having a visitation and funeral at the church building for one of our members. The visitation was scheduled for four hours before the funeral, so I left to get a bite to eat before the funeral service.
While I was away, I received a call from a friend who said there was a John Smith (not his real name) that had stopped by the building looking for me and asked if I knew him. I told him I remembered someone by that name from college days, but had not seen him in years. He said, “Well, he is waiting for you in the church parking lot.”
When I arrived and walked onto the parking lot he got out of his car and I recognized him as the guy I knew from college. As we met there was a cordial greeting and the usual conversation that followed. He said he and his family lived in another state, etc., but had intentionally come here to see me.
His countenance then changed and he blurted, “I owe you some money.” He asked, “Do you remember getting your wallet stolen from your dorm room while in college?” A little taken aback by his question, I answered, “Well, yes I do.” He then confessed, “I did it- - and I am here to pay you back.”
Trying to find the right words to say, I finally responded, “I appreciate you wanting to make it right, but I do not remember how much money was in my wallet. I was a college student, so it couldn’t have been that much!” He handed me two hundred dollar bills and said, “This should cover it and I want you to know that I am very sorry!” I, in turn, hugged him and gladly told him he as forgiven.
I walked away from that encounter feeling quite happy. Not so much about the return of the money, but by knowing John’s burden of guilt had been lifted. He had carried with him for over 35 years!
That experience reminds me of a couple of valuable truths. One, as long as we are living, we have opportunity to do what we can to right the wrongs of our past (Luke 15:11-24). And two, when it comes to getting things right with God, He is as eager to forgive us as we are to be forgiven (1 John 1:9, et al).